State's economy setting record highs
As I’ve mentioned before, December is a busy time for the legislature and our staff. We have worked all interim, since the session adjourned in May, studying a number of important issues, attending national conferences and meetings to learn how other states are addressing those issues, and meeting regularly with our constituents, state agencies and various other groups and organizations. We have until next Friday, Dec. 10 to have all of our bill requests turned into staff in order to get them filed for the upcoming session.
If you have any ideas for changes to current law or for new ones, please contact me this week so we can discuss your ideas.
In the next few weeks, the state Board of Equalization will also be meeting to decide how much money the Legislature will have to spend this session. They look at national and state economic trends as well as what revenue is coming in and forecast what revenue will be available in the next fiscal year to make their budget estimate. The governor will use this estimate to craft his budget proposal that he will share with the Legislature on the first day of session during his State of the State address. The board will then meet again in February to further review their data before submitting the final revenue amount to the Legislature. This is the amount we’ll use to craft the state budget.
Oklahoma’s economy is strong and setting record highs. October gross receipts were 16% higher than a year ago while 12-month collections were over 11% higher than the previous period. These record highs came from rising crude oil and natural gas prices, which are our state’s bread and butter.
Based on various economic factors, the state Treasurer believes Oklahoma’s economy will continue growing in the coming months. Last month, nearly every major revenue stream in our state showed growth, which is great news for our state agencies that depend on these funds to provide their government services.
Another indicator of our healthy economy and anticipated economic growth comes from the Oklahoma Business Conditions Index. In October, the monthly index was set at 63, up from just under 59 in September. Anything above 50 indicates potential expansion in the next three to six months.
Unemployment is further evidence of a strong economy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Oklahoma’s September unemployment rate as three percent, compared to the U.S. national rate of nearly five percent. Having said this, the unemployment rate does not reflect how many people are unemployed, but rather how many are no longer receiving unemployment benefits.
The lack of employees in the service industry and others continues to be a challenge for business owners statewide as is evident by all the “Help Wanted” signs. This was a topic of multiple studies this interim in both the House and Senate and will be part of ongoing discussions as we try to figure out how to get people to return to the workforce.
In closing, I want to congratulate the Marlow Outlaws and Washington Warriors as they are one step closer to the 2A state championship. Good luck to both of these teams as they continue their fight in the semi-finals this week against Eufaula and Beggs.
If you have any questions or concerns on legislative matters, please contact me at the Capitol. Please write to Senator Jessica Garvin, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 237, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at Jessica.Garvin@oksenate.gov or call (405) 521-5522.
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